The curse has been lifted off the city and San Diego Comic-Con aka Comic-Con International aka SDCC aka Sub Diego Comic-Con has come and gone. It ended a few days ago and I would have written about it sooner but that convention left me dead on my feet by the end of it.
My first impression of SDCC on Thursday was that there was simply too much. Too much stuff going on outside of the convention center in the surrounding blocks. Too many people walking, stopping, and lining up to go to these events. It only became more dense the closer you got to the convention center. Walking would grind to a halt and frustration would mount, especially on Thursday when the heat and humidity conspired to make everyone look like they’d just fallen into a kiddy pool, until someone 30 feet ahead would get it together and stop their rubbernecking. I didn’t do myself any favors by rocking a new pair of shoes on Saturday that led to me bleeding through my socks and hobbling with complaints about a sore back and bad knee left over from my varsity days.
Once inside, the show floor was a mess all its own. It’s cliche to complain about SDCC not being about the comics but it was disheartening to enter the small Artists’ Alley. Even with some exceptional talents exhibiting, it couldn’t shake a feeling of uniformity. It’s most likely got a lot to do with who could afford to exhibit and who wanted to exhibit. Outside of Artists’ Alley, at just about the other end of the building, was a pretty solid small press section where I happily bought some books from Dave Baker & Nicole Goux after meeting them at WonderCon back in March. Still, the distribution of talent and small press in that area left a lot to be desired as they could often be blocked off by traffic for some of the larger media booths.
The larger booths were fine. I had no interest in waiting in lines to buy exclusives or collect some free swag but they seemed to be servicing those who did pretty well. It became pretty clear that this was not a convention made with someone like me in mind. There are more of the things I liked at SDCC at other conventions like WonderCon or even NYCC such as access to a diverse array of creators in Artists’ Alley. As a member of the press, I did appreciate the opportunity to interview certain creators in person who normally wouldn’t be all in the same place. Not having to get on a plane to interview creators like Sarah Graley was certainly a high point. We’ll be having some great interviews from this convention going up on our site for a while on the Reboot Comic Book Club podcast and in traditional write-ups.
I left thinking that SDCC was kind of terrible but having had a great time. Why? To borrow a quote from Mark Twain: “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”
I could run through a list of everyone I had the pleasure to meet for the first time or hang out with again, but all that would do is make me miss them and want to go back to that awful convention center so we could make plans to grab anothe drink. I was glad to have met and hung out with the Comics Bulletin crew who all made me feel proud of what we’re doing together. And our friends from Women Write About Comics were simply fantastic. Forming a combination group of CB and WWAC peeps to roam the floor and dine with led to a lot of good times.
Being a guest on a panel at my first SDCC was a weird experience. By the end of it, though, I was left with the feeling that it had gone well and that I hadn’t done anything to make a fool of myself. I kept the name card. I’m sentimental. I don’t take a lot of pictures of places when I visit them and I’m never the first to suggest a group photo. There were photos taken and I’ve seen a few of them but I don’t think I’ll be saving a great very many of them. I think the memories and the odd bits of memorabilia will do the job.
The stand-out panel I attended was the “Black Comix Returns: African American Independent Comic Publishing” presented by Magnetic Press. There was a lot of great discussion there about creating art, political speech, and exposing industry racism. Ronald Wimberly’s comments supplied me with a lot of laughs (that is one cartoonist who could probably have an equally successful career as a public speaker) and things to consider. I believe Women Write About Comics has a write-up of that panel in the works and we will certainly link to that when it is available.
On Sunday, I stopped at the Silver Sprocket booth with a couple of friends and we started talking to everyone at the table about their books. One of those people was Meg Golding who was there with In Case of Emergency and Onomatopoeia. It came up that I had my own comic I was distributing in my backpack and Meg and I ended up doing a book trade (in which I ended up giving a copy to pretty much everyone at the booth because I’m a narcissist who also needed to lighten his bags). So, I might be biased, but Onomatopoeia had me laughing obnoxiously on my Monday morning train ride. It was sold to me on the strength of Meg’s anecdote about the creation of a story within it, “Tales of the Bucket Champion,” and it certainly stood out as some much needed humor on my journey home. I won’t be writing a traditional review of them since I got them in a trade, but I do wholeheartedly recommend picking up Meg’s books online or at a show like the upcoming SPX.